Stepping into the offline chasm


Ever since I’ve read Aaron’s post I’ve been pondering doing much the same – i.e., going cold turkey for a month and simply not bothering with being online at all.

I think it’s a recurring need. I did that last year to some extent, tuned out most of everything during three weeks this year, and have been doing spells of it ever since, oh, 2004 or so, not to mention my ongoing efforts to cut down on time sinks like Twitter and Facebook and, in general, relax more.

I need to do it again, I think, and to cut a long story short, I’ve hit upon five things I’m going to try to do from Oct 1st onwards:

  1. Move to using social networks solely on the phone – I’ve long preferred to use iPhone Twitter and Facebook clients over desktop ones (if only because I’m spared 90% of the junk content on Facebook), and regardless of phone or service, that way I only pay attention to the noise when I need to or I’m idling away the time commuting. Incidentally, this isn’t driven – but may actually be eased by – Vodafone 360, which is where I’m now trying to rebuild my address book1.
  2. Cut down heavily (again) on my RSS feed intake, since I would say that around 80% of the time I spend online these days is related to either reading news, tracking down interesting bits of news or flagging stuff for later reading – Google Reader makes a lot of that effortless (even though I still pine for filtering, my current setup is still mostly the same as last year’s), and Instapaper makes reading stuff I can’t go through immediately a breeze.
  3. Set up EventBox as a sort of “single point of disconnection” – if it’s open, then I can keep track of news and most social networks and the news (it does Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader, all in one place), and if it’s closed I can have blissful, quiet productivity.
  4. Read even more, and take some time each day to exercise, organize stuff, play the piano (or at least make a more credible attempt at it), putter around the house oiling hinges, etc. – in general, use less technology, do more things with my hands, feel more in touch with things.
  5. And, as a corollary, stop using phones and computers (of any shape and size, except my Sony Reader) at home while the kid is awake, period. There’s stuff in life you can only appreciate once.

On a related note to 2. above, I’ve gone and bought both NetNewsWire and Instapaper Pro for my iPhone, and I can safely say that despite some neat twists, I still prefer Byline to NetNewsWire, largely because it gives me a “river of news” view, although I also find it a rather more polished app overall (it can, for instance, cache images and somehow feels less visually cluttered).

That said, realistically, it’s utterly impossible for me to be completely offline for a month, so don’t go away – links will be posted whenever I find something worth commenting, and there’s quite a bit of draft writing in the pipeline yet.

1 Astute readers will have noticed that I’ve been griping about social networking for a good while now, and that I’ve extolled the virtues of having them on a phone for just about the same time – the truth is that I’ve been overexposed to them (i.e., the mechanics thereof) for rather too long, which also helps explain why I need some quiet time – or at least a little change in perspective regarding them.


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